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Antholz's rise to fame as a biathlon venue

The history of biathlon in Antholz-Anterselva dates back to the early 1970s. Antholz native Paul Zingerle was a major contributor to this development

Storia di Anterselva: Paul Zingerle

The youngest of many siblings, Paul Zingerle was born in 1945 at Siebenter Farm in Antholz-Niedertal.
His mother was a teacher at Niedertal primary school. His father ran the large farm, which belonged to the Kuchlmair Estates in the Antholz Valley, and also served for many years as mayor of his local municipality.
After he finished high school, Paul Zingerle took up a position as an intermediate school teacher in Mühlbach.

Right at the start of the 1970s Paul Zingerle and one of his brothers started building the hotel Wildgall and a group of eight holiday bungalows in the Obertal (upper) area of the valley.
At the same time at the start of the 1970s, Paul Zingerle ‘discovered’ the sport of biathlon after hearing, almost by chance, that the Italian national biathlon team at the time was holding a training camp close to nearby Sterzing.
Always keen to try out new things, Zingerle recognised the potential of the ski-hunting sport and managed to get the national coach at the time, Mismetti Battista, to come and visit the Antholz Valley and was able to convince him of all the Valley’s merits.

The first international biathlon event was held in the Antholz Valley already in 1971, under the management of Paul Zingerle. Back then the only competition held was the 20 km; the 10 km sprint was introduced in 1973/74.

In 1975 the Antholz Valley was awarded its first Biathlon World Championship; the event was held with the unanimous recognition of the biathlon experts, even though biathlon was a discipline largely unknown at the time.
The nomadic, energetic businessman got involved in the local tourist association and the municipal council, was elected president of the Antholz Valley Sports Federation (founded 1968) and served in a number of official offices and functions as well.
In the mid-1970s Paul Zingerle - who had a penchant for pragmatic solutions - introduced a Biathlon World Cup in collaboration with the former biathlon king of East Germany, Kurt Hinze. The two friends drew up a rule book, bought a 25-kg (!) trophy, placed it in the window of the Seeber Bakery – the only commercial advertising spot in the whole village – and awarded it as the inofficial world cup as part of the annual International Biathlon Week.
The following year the World Cup proper was officially introduced and the cup itself awarded. 

Following the introduction of sport-friendly small bore rifles in the winter of 1977/78, began its unstoppable ascent from an unknown insider sport to one of the most exciting and – as it turned out later - very TV-friendly combination sports.
As part of the World Championships held in Antholz in 1983, Paul Zingerle and his untiring team scored a major coup: they constructed a building in the natural biathlon stadium in Antholz-Obertal that became the mainstay of sporting events and tourism.

As early as the start at the 1980s, Paul Zingerle came into personal financial difficulties and was unable to prevent the sale of his hotel and properties.
In November 1984 Paul Zingerle handed over his office as President of the Antholz Biathlon Committee (responsible for the organisation and hosting of biathlon events) to Franz Rieder, who then headed the Antholz Biathlon Committee until 1997.
Paul Zingerle subsequently dedicated himself to further developing the sport of biathlon as part of the IBU Executive Board, and was visiting sporting friends in Moscow when he died of heart failure in the summer of 1993.
Following many a bureaucratic hurdle, Paul Zingerle was laid to rest in the cemetery at Antholz-Niedertal.



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